With Mike & Mickie Cooper

 Editor's Note: Mike & Mickie Cooper own Murals & More LLC in Franklin, Tenn., 20 minutes south of Nashville. Mike has been painting murals professionally for more than 25 years, with hundreds of exterior and interior murals under his belt. Both Mike and his wife, Mickie, have been teaching mural classes all over the country as well as in their studio in Franklin. They make a unique team in that they are right- and left-brained. (We will let you figure out which one is which.) In this column for Focus on Faux, they are providing lively commentary and also hope to dispel any myths about the illustrious world of mural painting. Mike and Mickie invite you to send questions about the industry and try your best to stump them! Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put "Fresh Perspective" in the subject line.


 Morally and Ethically Speaking

Question: What do you do if the client wants to do something that is totally unprofessional and against your morals and ethics?

Simple answer: Charge more.

OK, that wasn't the answer you expected. Now let's get serious, because this problem comes up every once in a while. Most of the time it comes up in the way of someone wanting you to replicate a copyrighted image. "Oh, can you paint Winnie the Pooh in my son's room?" "My daughter would love to have those Frozen characters in her room!"

And you're tempted. Why? Well, first, it's an easy buck. I mean, how long does it take to project and paint an image from a coloring book? Second, you don't have to think. The creative work has already been done for you!

And therein lies the rub: It's already been done. By someone else! It's not your work. It's also known in legal circles as copyright infringement. Yep, that's right. Every time you replicate that Spiderman, or paint a cute little Disney Princess on someone's nursery wall, you are breaking the law.

Sure, you might get away with it, and you're thinking "who is it hurting?" Well, first of all, you're replicating someone else's original work without their written permission. It's actually against the law, punishable by very large fines, and in some cases, even jail time.

And believe it or not, you're also hurting everyone in our industry. It gives us all a bad reputation. Everyone expects that that's all we're capable of—painting Disney characters on nursery walls. They don't feel we're capable of original thoughts. And of course, then there's the bidding war: Well, my friend's brother-in-law said that HE could paint it for $50 less! Can you match it?"

Moral of the story: If you develop original artwork, then you can charge for original artwork! Don't be lazy! Use your brain! Come up with something for your client that nobody else would ever have thought of! Be original! Be professional!

Now, as far as the moral and ethical part goes, I can't judge. Mickie can judge, but I can't. If someone wants you to paint something totally weird, well...that's up to you. As long as its legal, have at it. And if it's not legal, well...just don't call us for bail money.